Use this simplified recipe to make Movie Theater Popcorn with real butter. You will think you are eating popcorn from the concession stand after making this recipe.

It costs approximately $2.56 to make this popcorn. The recipe makes four servings and costs about $0.64 per serving.

The finished Copycat movie theater popcorn in a popcorn bucket with text overlay for Pinterest.

You can buy a bag of popcorn from a movie theater to take home, but it costs around $12.00. You can make it at home for a lot less but with the same great taste.

My recipe uses real butter, and not butter flavored oil like the theaters. I teach you how to make clarified butter to get the taste you love with real butter!

You can make Movie Theater popcorn with just four ingredients and ten minutes of your time. You’ll never want to buy movie theater popcorn again after making this copycat recipe.

You will love this Theater Popcorn

You better believe I won’t let you deprive yourself of your favorite movie snack. That’s exactly why I developed this Copycat Movie Theater Popcorn recipe. For times like this when none of us should go out. 

10 minutes is all that you need to kick your family movie night up a few notches! Oh, and did I mention that this recipe comes in around $2.00?!

What is better than that? Imagine sitting in the comfort of your own home with your family, watching a fun movie and enjoying the best popcorn out there. Your movie nights just got a whole lot better with this movie theater popcorn recipe!

What movie will you be watching tonight while tricking your taste buds into thinking you are actually at the movies while eating this popcorn?

Close up of Copycat movie theater popcorn in a popcorn spilt out of a bucket.

Movie Popcorn ingredients and cost

Per Serving Cost: $0.64

Recipe Cost: $2.56

  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter – $1.12
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil – $1.10
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels – $0.34

NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have.

How To Make Movie Theater Popcorn

  1. First, melt the butter in a glass measuring cup. Scrape the foamy top on the butter and discard.
  2. Next, in a large pot melt the coconut oil over high heat. Add in the popcorn kernels and swirl to coat all the kernels. Shake the pot often to avoid burning.
  3. Then, place the lid on the pot when the first kernel pops, with the lid ajar a little.
  4. Shake the pot often until the popping slows down. After the popping slows down, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for a minute.
  5. Slowly stream the clarified butter over the popcorn (stop streaming the butter once you get to the milk solids).
  6. Finally, stir the popcorn and season with salt.

A picture collage showing how to make this recipe.

***For complete recipe instructions and a recipe video, see the recipe card below!

Cook’s Tools:

  • Glass liquid measuring cup
  • Large heavy-bottomed pot
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Rubber scraper 
  • popcorn bowl

Movie Theater Popcorn Recipe flavor variations

  • Instead of salt, you can use seasoning salt, cajun seasoning, or even your favorite BBQ seasoning. 
  • Sometimes I like to add grated Parmesan and chili powder to my popcorn, YUM!

How long does Movie Theater Popcorn last?

This popcorn will stay fresh for 5-7 days if stored in an airtight container.

Movie Theater Popcorn at Home FAQs

What oil is used for movie theater popcorn?

Coconut oil or canola oil is what they use for popcorn at movie theaters. Both of these oils give a cleaner taste and are actually a healthier option over other oils so that is good news for sure!

What kind of butter do movie theaters use?

Movie theaters actually use butter-flavored oil. This helps to make popcorn not turn to mush from all those layers of butter being poured on. However, real clarified butter will have the same effect as butter-flavored oil.

Clarified butter is when unsalted butter is melted slowly to allow the milk solids to separate and the water to evaporate. This then leaves only the pure butterfat or liquid gold to drizzle over your popcorn. The recipe below covers how to get clarified butter. 

What’s the difference between movie theater butter and normal butter popcorn?

Movie theater butter actually uses butter flavored oil in their popcorn and not real butter. They do this because it has a lower water content, making the popcorn less soggy when making such large amounts.
Clarified butter has the same effect and is what I use in my recipe.

More Movie Time Snacks

A popcorn cup tipped over with popcorn spilt out onto the table with bowls of candy all around.
4.58 from 14 votes

Theater Popcorn at Home

Recipe Cost $ $2.56
Serving Cost $ $0.64
Prep Time 4 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
4 people
Transform movie night by making this Copycat Movie Theater Popcorn at home. It’s delicious, easy, and so budget-friendly! This recipe serves 4 and costs $1.22 to make. That’s just 31¢ per serving!


  • Glass liquid measuring cup
  • large heavy-bottomed pot
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • rubber scraper




  • Add butter to a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup with a spout.
  • Melt butter on HIGH in the microwave until melted, about 25-45 seconds.
  • Use a spoon to scrape the top layer of film from the butter. Set aside.


  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, add the coconut oil. Once the coconut oil is melted, put on oven mitts and add popcorn kernels. Swirl the pot until the kernels are coated in oil.
  • Shake the pot frequently over the burner so the kernels don’t burn. Once a couple of kernels pop, put on the lid but leave it ajar.
  • Continue to shake the pot frequently over the burner until the popping slows down to 3 seconds between pops.
  • Remove the pot from the burner and let it sit with the lid ajar for 1 minute (this will give any remaining kernels time to pop).


  • Remove the lid and pour the clarified butter into the popcorn in a steady stream. Once the clarified butter has been poured out and just milk solids remain, STOP. Transfer the milk solids to a container and keep it in the refrigerator for another use.
  • Toss the popcorn until evenly coated in butter and season to taste with salt. Serve.



  • This recipe will make about 14 cups of popcorn. 
  • I’ve tried doubling the recipe, but I always end up with burnt popcorn because the kernels don’t cover the bottom of the pan in an even layer. If you want more popcorn, cook it in batches. 
  • You need to use coconut oil to get that authentic movie theater taste. No substitutions, please. 


Serving: 3.5cups | Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 56mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 525IU | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

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Overhead picture of Copycat movie theater popcorn in a popcorn bucket.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I would sometimes go to the movie theatre JUST to buy some popcorn and bring it home, lol. I discovered butter flavored popcorn oil at the grocery store awhile back, but it’s super unhealthy…..I love your method! I’m excited to try it this weekend for movie night 🙂

  2. Is it the coconut oil that makes the difference?! Who would have thought. This is so yummy and perfect for our family movie night!

  3. You can purchase Ghee in the store and then skip the step of clarifying the butter. Ghee is expensive but lasts a really long time.

  4. I’d love to try this, and it looks good in the container, too! I have coconut oil, and all the other ingredients, now just need the movie!

  5. Michelle J. says:

    Popcorn is the thing I miss most about movie theaters!

  6. Mya Murphy says:

    I have made this before..exactly like this.. And it is perfect. Every single time.

  7. This delicious popcorn recipe would be perfect for my weekly movie night with my daughter. Thanks!

  8. You are an absolute genius! I made this last weekend for movie night, and this was the best popcorn we’ve ever had. We’re having it again tomorrow night, too.

  9. Laura Arteaga says:

    This recipe was perfect! Super easy to follow and we had all the ingredients at home already. Movie night was definitely better last night!

  10. Love movie theater popcorn! Plus for only $2?? Had to give it a try!

  11. This tastes exactly like the popcorn you get at the movie theater except for better. Yummy recipe!

  12. INCREDIBLE! This recipe is just buttery perfection.